The Shiva Purana (English translation)

by J. L. Shastri | 1970 | 616,585 words

This page relates “difference between saguna and nirguna” as found in the Shiva-purana, which, in Hinduism, represents one of the eighteen Mahapuranas. This work eulogizes Lord Shiva as the supreme deity, besides topics such as cosmology and philosophy. It is written in Sanskrit and claims to be a redaction of an original text consisting of 100,000 metrical verses.

Chapter 42 - The difference between Saguṇa and Nirguṇa

The sages said:—

1. Who is Śiva? Who is Viṣṇu? Who is Rudra? Who is Brahmā? Of these who is Nirguṇa? Please clear this doubt of ours.

Sūta said:—

2. Masters of the Vedas and Vedānta know that which originates from the Nirguṇa great soul as the one termed Śiva.

3-4. Prakṛti accompanied by Puruṣa originated from him. Penance was performed by them both. The famous city Kāśī known as Pañcakrośī, dear to all, originated in the water there at the base. There was water everywhere in the universe.

5. Viṣṇu famous as Nārāyaṇa slept there enveloped by Māyā. The Prakṛti is known as Nārāyaṇī (belonging to Nārāyaṇa.)

6. He who was born of his umbilical lotus was Pitāmaha. He who was seen by him through penance is said to be Viṣṇu.

7. The form that was revealed by Nirguṇa Śiva at the time of subduing the dispute between the two is, O learned ones, famous as Mahādeva.

8. This was said by him, “I will be Śiva with fire in my forehead.” He became famous by the name Rudra. He is the cause of blessing the worlds.

9. The formless one became one with forms in order to facilitate meditation. He alone is Śiva himself, favourably disposed towards his devotees.

10. Essentially there is no difference between Śiva who is different from the three Guṇas and Rudra the abode of Guṇas, as in the case of gold and an ornament made thereof.

11. Their forms and activities are the same; they bestow good goal on the devotees equally; they are equally worthy of being served by all and they indulge in various divine sports.

12. Rudra of terrible exploits has the form of Śiva in every respect. He was born for carrying out the tasks of the devotees. He helps Viṣṇu and Brahmā.

13. Other beings and gods who are born get dissolved in due order but not so Rudra. Rudra gets merged in Śiva.

14. This is the directive in the Vedas that all these Prākṛtas (born of Prakṛti) meet Rudra and go but Rudra does not meet these and go.

15. All worship Rudra but Rudra does not worship any one. Yet due to his favourable attitude to his devotees sometimes he worships himself.

16. Those who worship others get dissolved in them. That is why they attain Rudra in due course, O learned ones.

17. Those who are Rudra’s devotees attain the state of Śiva in a trice. They need not depend on any one else. This is the eternal statement in the Vedas.

18. O brahmins, ignorance is of various types. Perfect knowledge is not so. I shall explain their modes. Listen respectively.

19. Whatever is seen here beginning with Brahmā is Śiva himself. The concept of manifoldness is unreal.

20. Śiva is said to be before creation. Śiva is there in the midst of creation. Śiva is said to be at the end of creation. When everything is a void, Sadāśiva exists.

21. O great sages, thus Śiva is fourfold. He alone shall be known as Saguṇa. In view of the possession of Śakti he is twofold.

22. It is by him that the eternal Vedas, syllables, syllabic instants and his meditation and worship were given to Viṣṇu.

23. The eternal Śruti says—“Īśānaḥ Sarvavidyānām”. Hence Śiva is the creator of the Vedas and the lord of the Vedas.

24. He alone is Śiva himself who blesses all. He is the creator, sustainer and annihilator. He is the cosmic witness and Nirguṇa.

25. Restriction of time is for others and not for Rudra. He is Mahākāla himself associating with Mahākālī.

26. It is so that Brahmins mention Rudra and Kālī. Thanks to their wish and truthful sports everything is obtained by them.

27. He has no progenitor, no sustainer and no annihilator. He himself is the cause of all Viṣṇu and others are his creations.

28. He is not the creation of any one. Though single he assumes manifold shapes. Seeming to be many he becomes unified into one.

29. A single seed grows into a tree and produces many seeds. Even in their multiplicity they are of one tree. Maheśvara in the form of Śiva is verily like this.

30. This is the great knowledge of Śiva explained factually. O great sages, only the wise know this, none else.

The sages said:—

31. Please explain that knowledge with all its characteristics realising which one attains the state of Śiva. How is Śiva all and how is all Śiva?

Vyāsa said:—

32. On hearing these words, Sūta the excellent propounder of the Purāṇas remembered the lotus-like feet of Śiva and spoke these words to the sages.